Saturday, April 26, 2008

How about a pair of earrings?

Smokey Quartz, Swarovski crystals, sterling silver findings and ear wires

Freshwater Pearls and Swarovksi crystals,sterling silver findings and ear wires

Lab created Aqua quartz, sterling silver findings and ear wires

Monday, April 14, 2008

Need a little something to wear?

Spring is here! But.....Turquoise and copper says summer!

Or what about yellow, brown and copper? Resin beads with copper spacers.

Luscious popsicle orange lampwork beads mixed with sage, brown and silver!
Don't you love orange popsicles???

Azure Islands Designs, Azure Accessories!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Her name is Xue…it is pronounced as “Sch-ue” and it means snow, which she loves…imagine that since she was born and raised on a sunny tropical island …Xue Juan is her name in Mandarin (the official language of the Chinese) her combination of Chinese characters means a type of snow flower…such a pretty name!!!

This red pendant (above)is one of Xue's handcrafted polymer pendants the Chinese characters "ai" means "Love"

Xue is a talented eclectic artist, who happens to be a friend of mine…she lives in Tokyo with her husband of 14 years and two children. The first thing I felt about Xue was her kindness towards others… we've never met but words speak for themselves!

She is a self-taught artist with more than 20 years experience in advertising, graphic design, theme parties, cartoon illustrations, paper sculpture, mosaic art and jewelry design. Her designs and interest come from life experiences… living in and traveling to many amazing locations. Xue explains that she is motivated by her daily exposure to both the Western and Asian cultures in her mixed Chinese and European family.

She has spent the past 17 years living in Shanghai, New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and now Tokyo.

Even though all that moving and relocating could be a little unsettling with each move, came more inspiration (and Xue explains more ways on how to unpack fast…with kids, you also learn quickly, to ask for the washroom in various languages) She is a stay at home mom who also volunteers for artistic projects in her children’s school…Xue always wore her handcrafted jewelry to school and it wasn’t long before people were asking her about her wonderful pieces… and that is how she started making jewelry for others.

Xue Originals consist of bracelets, brooches earrings, lariat, and necklaces all handcrafted individually and carefully in her home. The lovely necklace to the right features Xue's wonderful polymer clay beads done in black, white and gray.

Lovely blue and green polymer beads handcrafted by Xue are the focal for the earrings above.

Dramatic black and gold is used in the focal polymer beads for the earrings on the right.

Her logo has been her identity for decades…it is both her logo and seal…she uses this seal to stamp on things that she has made such as illustrations, and 2D work. A friend hand-carved this seal as a farewell gift for her when she worked in Shanghai years ago. In Japan where she now lives it is sufficient to use a carved seal in lieu of a hand signature…but Xue chooses not to do that.

When traveling she visits local craft/bead shops and like myself buys more than she can keep up with. She enjoys creating jewelry pieces with colorful glass beads and does amazing polymer clay pendants. She often has a blast making beads with her children.

Blue is one of my favorite colors...just love this polymer clay pendant made by Xue.
Her website can be found at, in her world of Asian and European heritage she writes about everyday life where ever she finds herself living at the time, she writes about snow, about her children, her creations and about friends…her wonderful husband of 14 years did both Xue’s website and Etsy shop for her because in her words “getting started and all that technical stuff boggles me”.
Even though her Etsy shop and website are relatively new her talent has allowed her to be featured 3 times in Etsy treasuries…Xue claims those opportunities were made possible only because of the kind people on Etsy, maybe so but I also thing she was featured because her work is uniquely beautiful!!!

An orange handcrafted polymer clay pendant with gold speckles adorned by pretty pink flowers

Xue's latest work...aluminum card holders, for everything from business cards, photos, credit cards, personal cards...they will keep everything handy

I'm a Scholar, top left
Linda Floats,
top right
It's Spring,
bottom right

Genie in a Tea Pot,
bottom left

Along the same lines is her compact... every woman need a compact!

Dragon flies, brown compact
Azure Dreams, blue compact

Stop by Xue-Originals, either her Etsy store or her web site…I know she would love to have you visit!!!

Monday, April 7, 2008


While doing research for this feature I came across amazing information…far too much for this feature…this is a short overview…it may spark you interest to find out more, I know it did mine!

Diamonds are said to be a “girl’s best friend”!!! Is there any female out there who doesn’t like diamonds? I’d like to hear from you!!!

This choker is made with 18th century raw diamonds featuring an breathtaking emerald with pearls and rubies throughout. Part of a collection on display at the British Museum in London and stems from India under Muslim rule.

As you may know the diamond is the birthstone for the month of April…and what stunning choice!

The most coveted of engagement ring is a diamond...solitaire or variation of... I'm sure the woman wearing this ring is thrilled with it!!!

“Adamas” meaning invincible is the ancient Greek term from which the word diamond is derived from…text dating as far back as before 400BC make reference to diamonds and their possible value so they aren’t a modern day treasure!

There are more than 20 countries that produce diamonds but a few of the important suppliers are Botswana, South Africa, Angola, Congo, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Central African Republic, Guinea, Russia, China, the United States, Brazil, Venezuela, Canada and Australia.

While the diamond, which is made from carbon, is the hardest natural mineral it has 4 directions of cleavage…a sharp blow in one of these directions and the diamond will split (cleave). A jeweler or setter must take care to ensure these areas are not in a position to be hit and therefore split when the stone is set in a piece of jewelry…

The diamond in the rough is not brilliant and may even appear greasy when found…polishing and cutting is necessary to transform the stone to what we expect to see in a stunning piece of jewelry!

This is part of a belt buckle made from raw(uncut)diamonds set in gold from 19th century India. The belt width is 2 you an idea of the size of the diamonds...

Diamonds have been found in many colors, yellow, brown, pink, and of course colorless. The green, blue, reddish, and black, diamonds are more valuable…depending on the stone they can be much more valuable! How about this for a "stunner"...a 10.4 black diamond flanked by by glorious clear baguette diamonds. The spots you see on the black diamond aren't dust, they are inculsions and marks on the diamond...they stand out more because it is black. This photo was taken in a factory in Amsterdam, Holland.

What an array of colored diamond? These lovely diamonds are on display in the "Natural Hisory Museum" in London, England. Alan Bronstein, an American diamond consultant started this collection in 1980, over the years Alan and his friend Harry Rodman add to the collection...and still are!!!

As much as 80% of diamonds found have flaws which are then classified as industrial grade diamonds, lending themselves to industrial and manufacturing usage… such as cutting abrading or polishing tools, used in drill bits, as well as in mining, oil and gas, electronic, optical, thermal, machining, dentistry, and medical industries along with scientific applications. Such a beautiful versatile mineral!!!

Only diamonds of the highest quality are for jewelry…when purchasing a piece of jewelry made with diamonds a buyer should make themselves familiar with the “four C’s”, color, clarity, carat weight and cut…

Color: colorless stones are extremely valuable, yellow or brown-tinged are considered imperfect. Clear strong colors such as blue, green, red, orange and pink are considered “fancies” and are rare and highly prized!

Clarity: this is determined by the presents of or lack of blemishes or flaws.

Carat: the weight is the diamond’s size

Cut: the shape and proportion of the stone

Today you will find diamonds in all sizes but the shapes are relatively basic, beginning with the standard “brilliant cut”, then you have a grouping of cuts called the “fancy cuts” baguettes, pear shapes, heart shapes and marquises fall in this category, Asscher, Trilliant, and princess cuts are modern technology cuttings…new baguettes cut such as Princette and bagillion are becoming more popular as the new technology allows for more brilliance in these cuts.

This beautiful necklace is 1.5 carats.

Here is a little tip for keeping your gem sparkling:

“Grease adheres to diamonds, affecting their color and brilliance. Fatty deposits from dishwashing and cosmetics can lower the color of diamond by several grades. The simplest way to clean a diamond is to sit it in hot water with a drop of dishwashing liquid and gently brush it with a soft toothbrush. Alcohol also removes grease and dirt”. Quoted directly from Pg. 121 The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones

Five of the many famous and important Diamonds:

Dresden Diamond: 41 carats…early history not known, possibly from India, now in the Green Vaults in Dresden, Germany

Hope Diamond: 45.52 carats…first seen in 1830 bought by banker by the name of Hope…since 1958 in the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC

Cullinan I or Star of Africa Diamond: 530.20 carats…one of 105 stones cut from largest rough diamond ever found 3,106 carats…kept in the Tower of London, it is on the scepter of the king’s insignia.

Sancy Diamond: 55 carats…on display in the Louvre, Paris

Tiffany Diamond: 128.51 carats…when found in 1878, as a rough diamond it was 287.42 carats…purchased by Tiffany in New York and cut in Paris with 90 facets.

Diamonds… steeped in history, and legend…always in fashion!!!

Kasikci diamond...on display in one of the treasury rooms of the Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey.86 carat , surrounded by 49 very large brilliant cut diamonds.

NOTE: As with many things there is a dark side to the diamond industry, “conflict or blood diamonds” as they are known has been a concern since the 1990’s. Due to this issue the United Nations passed a resolution in 2000 requiring “certificates of origin” with the hope of ensuring the rough diamonds come from legitimate and legal sources. Even though as of 2006, 71 countries follow the certification process, which is called the Kimberley Process, it is difficult to enforce and it is alleged that smuggling still occurs in certain countries

Thank you Stephen and Randi Lynne Durham for allowing me to feature the beautiful photo of your ring!!!

Thank you Bu for allowing to feature your "stunning" photos!!!

Information References:
Gemstones of the World, Walter Schumann, Third Edition, Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.,
The Jeweler's Directory of Gemstones, Judith Crowe, Firefly Books, 2006
"Diamond," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007,,%204/4/20084/4/2008


Here are a few of my latest pieces...

Red Aventurine
Tiger glass
gold filled fingings

Aventurine pendant
Sterling silver beads
Sterling silver findings

Sponge Coral
Sterling silver

Enough for now...I will be posting Aprils "Birthstone" shortly...hopefuly later this evening...*Diamonds*...such a fascinating subject!!!